Burt promises no 2018-19 mergers or closures
There will be no closures or mergers of Bermuda's public schools this year, David Burt, the Premier, promised yesterday.
He said: “That is not something we are looking into right now.
“What we are looking at right now is making sure we improve the outcomes of the public education system — that is what has our focus and that is where the Ministry of Education and Department of Workforce Development is keenly focusing its attentions. Closures are not funded in this budget.”
Mr Burt, flanked by his ministers, was speaking at his Budget press briefing at Cabinet Office after he unveiled his first blueprint for the next financial year last Friday.
The 2016 School Reorganisation Report drawn up under the former One Bermuda Alliance government recommended exploring the possibility of merging or closing schools across the island to help cut costs.
Mr Burt was quizzed on whether public school pupils were equipped to take advantage of jobs in the financial technology centre when recent Cambridge exam results highlighted poor performance in maths.
He said: “Those results give us a baseline to where we have to move to improve. We will be judged on whether or not we can keep our promise to transform the outcomes of the education system.
“We are committed. It was the first thing mentioned in our budget, it was the first thing mentioned in our platform and it is the place that will have the most focus and most resources.”
Mr Burt added he had not faced any resistance from Cabinet colleagues on a Budget promise to relax the 60:40 rule to guarantee Bermudian majority ownership in island businesses.
He said: “I would not say there has been any pushback from all the people surrounding me today but this is something we have discussed internally over the last month.
“What is most critical is that we have to realise that we are in a modern economy, a global economy and we are going to have to do things differently if we want to accomplish our objectives, which are to create jobs and wealth in Bermuda.
“This government was not elected to make millionaires billionaires, it was elected to make poor people millionaires.”
Mr Burt added: “This government will consult in striking the right balance to ensure the revision of this law has the intended consequence of providing more opportunities for Bermudians to become wealth-generating owners and not employees.”
Mr Burt said in his Budget statement that cash could be saved in the Ministry of Public Works by moving government departments housed in private properties to government buildings.
He added: “Where there are places where government departments are in the private sector and can be moved into government-owned buildings we will look to make sure that we do that.
“What is also interesting is that when we are talking about efficiencies we are also looking to make the allocation of space inside of government departments more efficient.”
Mr Burt said that modernised office buildings meant that in the longer-term space could be shared to “reduce the footprint”.